By Kevin Bjornson, National Co-Chairman of The Libertarian Defense Caucus.
To understand recent world events, we should first
put them in context of world pre-history and history.
Then we can understand how ancient libertarianism
developed and it’s foundation.
These are the three most important early developments:
–“…a new study of the 1967 fossil site indicates the
earliest known members of our species, Homo sapiens,
roamed Africa about 195,000 years ago.” (1.)
–“The beginning of agriculture around 10 000 years ago
has repeatedly been seen as the major transition in the
human past, a change over from the natural environment
in control of humans, to humans in control of the natural
environment. Before agriculture, humans were hunter-
gatherers, dependent on wild resources for their nutritional
requirements, which led to a largely nomadic lifestyle
dictated by the annual cycle of animal and plant availability.” (2.)
–institution of the roman republic about 509 BC,
with the overthrow of the monarchy and creation of the
Twelve Tablets of Rome (the supreme constitution
of the world).
Origin of Government
The Paleolithic period (or “Estate of Nature” or
“Garden of Eden”) was based on hunting-gathering.
In the Neolithic period, agriculture enabled stored wealth
for the first time. This led to the evolution of government
from gangs of thieves:
“As agriculture became more and more widespread,
people began to accumulate surpluses of food,
meaning that a single family grew more than it consumed.
At the same time, the increasing tendency to remain in a
single location put pressure on groups to protect
themselves from other still nomadic peoples.” (3.)
“Government” is the organization of force to regulate
or control human behavior. If an individual thief tried
to steal this stored wealth, he would be confronted by
the farmer-owner, his family and friends. We must
therefore conclude that some nomadic tribes operated
as gangs, organizing force to steal. To counter this,
creators of stored wealth organized force in protection of
life, liberty and property.
This is the real “social contract” whereby individuals hire
government “guard dogs” to protect from government
“wolf packs”. We may suppose that protective government
evolved from predatory gov’t, in like manner that guard
dogs evolved from wolves. Because the notion of
protection presupposes a threat.
Let us contrast Locke with Hobbes:
Locke: “Men living together according to reason without
a common superior on earth, with authority to judge
between them, is properly the state of Nature.
But force, or a declared design of force upon the
person of another, where there is no common superior
on earth to appeal to for relief, is the state of war…” (4.)
Hobbes:“Hereby it is manifest, that during the time men
live without a common Power to keep them all in awe,
they are in that condition which is called Warre;
and such a warre, as is of every man, against every man.” (5.)
Locke was correct in supposing that society created
government; government didn’t create society.
Hobbes assumed without evidence that the Paleolithic
period was characterized by a “war of all against all”.
However hunting-gathering provides neither incentive
nor means for organized warfare. Because without
stored wealth, there is little to steal, nor the ability to
organize force to steal. The concept “war” presupposes
war between governments, hence by definition, there was
no organized war in the estate of nature.
Meaning of “Government”
This means, contra Locke, that illegitimate governments
arose before legitimate governments. Locke’s viewpoint
does not exclude the possibility of illegitimate governments,
but he views legitimate government as the archetype and this
implies illegitimate governments are aberrations not the norm.
Conversely, “anarcho-capitalists” imagine that their proposed
agencies of defensive/retaliatory force would not be governments.
In their view, by definition all governing actions initiate force and
cannot defend or retaliate against initiations of force.
Roy Childs: “Why is a limited government a floating abstraction?
Because it must either initiate force or stop being a government.”
However, dictionaries do not agree that governments necessarily
initiate force. To “govern” means to rule over by right of authority.
However, opinions may differ on what constitutes rightful authority.
The synonym “rule” makes the meaning more clear,
“to exercise control, dominion, or direction over; govern”.
When force is organized by government and used in retaliation
or defense, that also constitutes governing or ruling.
Tibor Machan: “Within libertarianism, though, the
concept ‘government’ is still unstable. Anarcho-libertarians,
who argue for something they dub ‘competing legal systems’
or ‘competing defense organizations,’ claim that the concept
‘government’ means, essentially, ‘a monopoly of legal services
over a given territory.’ This isn’t as clear cut as one might wish.”
“In my own view, for example, the institutions anarcho-libertarians
support are governments in every important respect–they are
administrators, maintainers, and protectors of bona fide law within
human communities. What critics claim is that such administration,
maintenance and protection do not require contiguous spheres of
jurisdiction but could work as a sort of crisscross system.” (7.)
Nations traditionally have been organized around territory or
ethnicity. However modernity has made the world transparent
and open to movement. The internet has enabled organization
based on ideas, much more so than the Gutenburg press.
“Intervention” and “Aggression”
Another area in which “anarcho-capitalists” are confused,
is their conflation of non-intervention (militarily) and
To “intervene” simply means, a party joins a dispute,
siding with one party over another. To intervene on behalf
of the aggressor, is aggression. To intervene on behalf of
the victim, is not aggression. Because there can be only
one initiation of force in a conflict, the initial aggressor
and an intervenor against the aggressor cannot both
initiate force. Because by definition, there can be only one
This confusion can be traced to a medieval misinterpretation
of Jus Naturale:
Maine: “No passage has ever been adduced from the remains of
Roman law which, in my judgment, proves the jurisconsults
to have believed natural law to have obligatory force between
independent commonwealths; and we cannot but see that to
citizens of the Roman empire who regarded their sovereign’s
dominions as conterminous with civilisation, the equal subjection
of states to the Law of Nature, if contemplated at all, [would]
have seemed at most an extreme result of curious speculation.“
“If the society of nations is governed by Natural Law,
the atoms which compose it must be absolutely equal.
Men under the sceptre of Nature are all equal, and
accordingly commonwealths are equal if the international
state be one of nature.”
“Acquisition of territory has always been the great spur of
national ambition, and the rules which govern this acquisition,
together with the rules which moderate the wars in which it
too frequently results, are merely transcribed from the part
of the Roman law which treats of the modes of acquiring
property ‘jure gentium’.
“They thus made their way into the modern Law of Nations,
and the result is that those parts of the international system
which refer to dominion, its nature, its limitations, the modes
of acquiring and securing it, are pure Roman Property Law –“
“In order that these chapters of International Law may be
capable of application, it is necessary that sovereigns should
be related to each other like the members of a group of Roman
proprietors. This is another of the postulates which lie at the
threshold of the International Code, and it is also one which
could not possibly have been subscribed to during the first
centuries of modern European history.. It is resolvable into
the double proposition that ‘sovereignty is territorial,’ i.e.
that it is always associated with the proprietorship of a limited
portion of the earth’s surface, and that ‘sovereigns inter se are
to be deemed not paramount, but absolute, owners of the
state’s territory.'” (8.)
Rulers are governed by natural law, like all other natural persons.
But they do not own all the real estate within their dominion,
hence do not have a moral shield against intervention (between
the ruler and the ruled), whether by invasion, revolution, or
“A priori” and empirical induction
People generally tend to be skeptical of “a priori” speculation,
and prefer to see examples. Though, often “libertarians” try to
define liberty deductively, from axioms. We may trace
“competing governments” theory to the common law system
of the roman republic; and this is more useful than trying to
re-invent the wheel with “anarcho-capitalism”.
Deduction from axioms is one side of the coin. The other side
is empirical and inductive. Ancient libertarianism began as a
synthesis of the two. We see this exemplified when Rome
Henry Maine: “It is notorious that this proposition —
live according to nature — was the sum of the tenets of the
famous Stoic philosophy. Now on the subjugation of Greece
that philosophy made instantaneous progress in Roman society.”
…The alliance of the lawyers with the Stoic philosophers lasted
through many centuries.” (9.)
Prior to this, the roman republic began a common law system
they called “Jus Gentium” (or law of all nations). This was
merchant law, because it pertained to international trade,
and disputes that arose therefrom. Merchants from different
city-states sometimes had disputes, and they resolved the
question of what set of laws to apply by resorting to common
law. Though this method should be applied to all areas of law.
Henry Maine translates and quotes the Institutional Treatise
published under the authority of the Emperor Justinian:
“All nations who are ruled by laws and customs, are governed
partly by their own particular laws, and partly by those laws which
are common to all mankind. The law which a people enacts is called
the Civil Law of that people, but that which natural reason appoints
for all mankind is called the Law of Nations, because all nations use it.” (10.)
Maine explains: “Jus Gentium was, in fact, the sum of the common
ingredients in the customs of the old Italian tribes, for they were
all the nations whom the Romans had the means of observing…”(11.)
The Latin “Jus Gentium” or the law in common to all nations
(derived inductively), was objective in the sense of a property
of human nature and not derivative of contracts. Though
politically, we must evaluate all human actions that do not initiate
force, as if they were subjective. This resolves the seeming
contradiction between Austrian economics and “objectivism”.
The Stoic philosophy was to live in accord with nature,
keeping a balance or golden mean; the political aspect
was the principle of equity and equal rights (this was the
bridge to “Jus Gentium”).
By extracting the elements in common to all law codes,
the Romans did not intend “a priori” to arrive at the
non-aggression principle. That is good, because
well-intentioned people can come up with all kinds
of axioms which they presume to be self-evident,
and through pure logic arrive at a “reductio ad absurdum”.
Jus Gentium arrived at an approximation of the
non-aggression principle by analyzing examples
of all law codes, extracting what they all have in common.
All legal systems generally prohibit murder, robbery, and rape
(forcible initiation of force upon another natural person).
Though governments make exceptions for government
employees, we should apply the same logic to all
natural persons (“AEquitas” in Latin, “equity” in English).
Thus by applying the logic of equity to common law,
we arrive at knowledge of natural law, including the
non-initiation-of-force principle (i.e. liberty principle).
This natural law reigns supreme–applying to all
natural persons, in all places, and for all time.
Failure to live in accord with this natural justice will
result in automatic punishment from nature, as surely
as a poor diet and lifestyle will diminish lifespan.
Sharia law is in direct opposition to natural law,
and the world must choose between them.
Decline of the West–then and now
When the western roman empire fell, the eastern
continued for another 1000 years. The EU, and it’s
partner the US, are collapsing–economically,
politically, and demographically. Russian law must
be reformed in accord with “Jus Naturale” and then
will be able to preserve civilization in the dark
ages that might come. This will create hope and
purpose for the future, inspiring population increase.
Russia is a rightful heir to the eastern roman republic.
If Russia enabled a Kurdistan protectorate in eastern Turkey,
that would give Russia a land route from Armenia all the way
to the Mediterranean. Russia should negotiate military transit
privileges through Georgia, and the US should negotiate
military transit privileges through Armenia. Greece should
reprise the Iliad, and reverse the Islamist conquest of
The US and the West are wrong to back an Islamic Turkey,
now as they were in the Crimean War. Similarly the West
backed the wrong side in Serbia and Afghanistan. Once the
Iran domination of Syria ends, Russia should assume a
leading role there.
Russia has a moral duty to prevent the rise of the Sunni
Caliphate and Shia nukes, and thus must resist the efforts
of Erdogan and the mullahs in Iran. That is because Obama
has further bankrupted the US. Pax Americana will go the
way of Pax Britannica and Pax Romana.
A good replacement is needed to avert a new Dark Ages,
the UN is manifestly unsuited to the task for multiple reasons.
Instead of siding with Shia Iran against the Sunni Caliphate,
and Obama backing whichever side seems trendy– Russia
and the US should unite against both the Sunni caliphate and
The western and eastern fragments of the republic must unite
in a co-dominion, changing their policies to form a humanistic
alliance against theocracy.
1. McDougall, I.; Brown, F.; & Fleagle, J.; (2005)
“Stratigraphic placement and age of modern humans from Kibish, Ethiopia”
Nature, Thursday Feb. 17, 2005
2. Brown, T.; Jones, M.; Powell, W.; and Allaby, R. (2008)
“The complex origins of domesticated crops in the Fertile Crescent”
Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 10-29
3. Wikibooks (2013)
“Civilization Makes it’s Debut” in
World History/Ancient Civilizations
4. Locke, J.; (1690)
“Of the State of War”
Second Treatise of Civil Government Chapter III Section 19
5. Hobbes, T.; (1660)
“Of The Naturall Condition Of Mankind, As Concerning Their Felicity, And Misery”
Leviathan, Chapter 13
6. Childs, R.; (1969)
“An Open Letter to Ayn Rand: Objectivism and the State”
The Rational Individualist, August 1969
7. Machan, T.; (2004)
“‘Government’ vs. ‘State'”
Strike the Root, March 13, 2004
8. Maine, H.: (1861)
“The Modern History of the Law of Nature”
Ancient Law, chapter four
9. Maine, H.: (1861)
“The Law of Nature and Equity”
Ancient Law, chapter three
‘World History and the Role of Russia; from a classical libertarian perspective’ was originally published in the Russian language academic journal “Modern Scientific Thought”.
It is reprinted with permission here.
“Modern Scientific Thought’ may be accessed here http://helri.com/dop_faily/snm-2013-4.pdf
A profound thank you to Dr. Igor Suzdaltsev, Editor-in-Chief of ‘Modern Scientific Thought’, for his invaluable contribution to the publication of this article and to the cause of liberty.
Here is a link to his book’Natiology’ http://www.amazon.com/Natiology-Social-Science-Third-Millennium/dp/0965375323